Greens push the governing coalition to accelerate the transition to renewables, but opposition parties criticise costs to consumers
The German government approved a law that will ban new oil- and gas-heating systems starting in 2024. Opposition parties had claimed the bill would result in “incalculable” costs for homeowners.
The bill, which settles a dispute that existed between the liberals and Greens of Olaf Scholz’s three-party coalition in regards to heating systems, requires any new or existing building installed after January 1, 2020, to be powered by renewable energy at a 65 percent rate. People with low incomes will receive exemptions.
The bill stated that “Germany cannot achieve its climate goals or reduce its dependency on fossil fuels quickly without a rapid change in the heating system of buildings.”
The legislation was criticized by homeowners groups. The government is trying to force the energy revolution through with a crowbar, said Kai Warnecke of Haus & Grund.
This measure will accelerate the transition to renewable heat pumps, hydrogen boilers and solar panels in German buildings. Berlin is aiming to be carbon neutral by 2045. This measure will help them achieve that goal.
Last year, Germany’s buildings accounted for 112mn tonnes or 15% of the total greenhouse gas emissions.
The bill is also part of a strategy to reduce Germany’s dependency on natural gas imports. Berlin has worked on many fronts to ensure its energy security after Russia cut off gas supplies following its invasion in Ukraine.
According to official statistics, a third (33%) of Germany’s energy is used for heating buildings. 80% of that heat comes from fossil fuels. Nearly half of Germany’s 41.1mn households heat with gas and 25% use heating oil.
The price to run such fossil fuel-based system is expected to rise substantially over the next few decades as the EU’s emission trading scheme is extended for buildings. This would, in essence, place a price on the greenhouse gas emissions of buildings starting 2027.
The Christian Democrats (CDU), the opposition party, criticised this reform as “a profound intrusion on people’s private property”.
Anne Konig, CDU spokesperson for energy policy, said: “Homeowners and tenants, housing associations, heating network operators, and housing associations will all face uncalculable costs.” Many people are now worried. . . “Whether they can afford to even have a roof over their head.”
The bill was one among several compromises that were negotiated last month during 30 hours worth of discussions between Scholz’s Social Democrats, Greens, and FDP, an liberal, pro business party. The talks were successful in breaking the logjam of the coalition’s legislation programme.
It is a major success for the Greens that this bill has been passed. They have long called for an eco-revolution in residential heating. The FDP, however, said that they would make changes to the bill’s text once it was submitted to the parliament.
The government will cover 30% of the cost for installing new heating systems. Homeowners who switch to climate friendly heating before the deadline will receive a 10% bonus.
Germans who live in older buildings are not required to change their heating systems unless the system breaks down. People with low incomes, and people over 80 years old will also receive exemptions.
By 2045, heating systems must only be powered by renewable energy.